Ethan Helms/Courtesy Schmidt RelationsWhat’s it like to be the CMA Entertainer of the Year on the eve of playing your first stadium date of the year?
Luke Bryan shows Willie Geist this Sunday, in a behind-the-scenes feature taped before his recent two-night stand at Boston’s Gillette Stadium. You can catch Sunday Today with Willie Geist starting at 8 a.m. ET on NBC.
This weekend, Luke and his pals Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch play two concerts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, before heading on to Saratoga Springs, New York. The next stadium show on the Kill the Lights trek comes August 19 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Getty Images via ABCWeve heard Gwen Stefani talk about how Blake Shelton saved her life following her painful divorce from Gavin Rossdale. Now, in a new cover story with Billboard, we get to hear how Gwen saved Blake right back.
The country singer describes the moment he told Gwen about his own split from Miranda Lambert. "I won't forget that day," he says. "I looked over at Gwen -- who I didn't really know -- and she had these huge tears in her eyes. I thought, 'Wow, she feels super bad for me!'"
But it wasnt just sympathy -- she knew exactly what he was going through. Blake recalls, She didn't tell me much, because we didn't know each other at the time, but she said, 'I'm going through something very similar to what you're going through. I understand. And I hate it.'
The two bonded from that day on. Next thing I know, I wake up and she's all I care about, and I'm wondering if she feels the same about me, Blake says.
He adds, "Gwen saved my life. Who else on earth could understand going through a high-profile divorce from another musician? You can't even imagine the similarities in our divorces."
EMI NashvilleWhile Hillary Scott & the Scott Family’s album, Love Remains, comes out on Friday, it already boasts the number-one Christian hit, “Thy Will” -- not bad for a project that originally started out as a simple way to thank friends who supported Hillary, her mom Linda Davis, her dad Lang Scott and little sister Rylee through the illness and passing of Hillary’s paternal grandfather.
“He was a blue-collar, hard-working man, who loved God, loved his family and he led by example,” Hillary reminisces. “You know, he led by example in good and bad ways, of what to and what not to do, like we all do. He was the patriarch of our family. He had the loudest, most booming voice. You could literally feel it in your chest. And that song -- I mean everything in that song is him,” she says of the track “Safe Haven.”
The faith-based collection immortalizes the man Hillary recalls as Lady Antebellum’s number-one supporter.
“Really before I even knew what a street team was, like he was our street team. He would bootleg-copy things and like give 'em to people, because he was so proud of us. He was like, 'My granddaughter and these two tall long-legged boys are out riding around in a van and I'm just so proud of 'em and they're gonna be the next big thing.' And then he'd play like the demo of 'Love Don't Live Here' for these random people he was driving to the airport, because he drove the airport shuttle.”
You can catch Hillary Scott & the Scott Family Tuesday when they perform the track “Beautiful Messes” on Good Morning America at 7 a.m. on ABC.
Comstock/Thinkstock Hillary Scott happens to have seven Grammys for her work with Lady Antebellum, but her mom, Linda Davis, also has one in her own right. Can you recall why? ANSWER: Linda took home the Best Country Collaboration with Vocals gramophone trophy in 1993, for her duet with Reba on "Does He Love You."
Kelsea Ballerini on "Greatest Hits"; ABC/Byron CohenThursday's edition of ABC's musical series Greatest Hits focused on songs from 2000-2005, and featured performances by Kelsea Ballerini, Little Big Town and Lee Ann Womack.
Little Big Town paid homage to Alicia Keys with a performance of Alicia’s debut number-one hit, “Fallin'" – a gospel song that never gets old, according to the band’s Karen Fairchild.
Greatest Hits co-host Kelsea Ballerini pulled double duty, performing a medley of Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” Maroon 5’s “This Love” and Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time.”
Greatest Hits returns next Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.
RCA NashvilleFans today finally get a taste of Jake Owen’s American Love. Not only does it feature the top-ten lead single, “American Country Love Song,” it also boasts what some might consider an unexpected collaboration.
"'If He Ain't Gonna Love You' is a song that's got a lot of funk to it, a lot of R&B flair,” Jake says, “and compounding my vocal with the amazing Chris Stapleton singing backgrounds is something that I'm just really proud of, and it sounds great and I'm sure that it will be a single at some point.”
Chris co-wrote the tune, but Jake confesses his favorite song on the album is actually the only one he had a hand in writing himself. It’s called “LAX.”
On Monday, Jake marks the tenth anniversary of his first national TV appearance by returning to the show that helped make him famous. He’ll be on ABC’s Good Morning America on August 1. Then on Wednesday, he celebrates the release of his fifth album with a free concert in New York City’s Madison Square Park. The fun starts at 7 p.m. ET.
Burke/Triolo Productions/Thinkstock Blake Shelton followed up his surprise Wednesday-night show in Kansas City with another one Thursday night in Denver.
Keith Urban has signed on as one of the sponsors of the 30th annual Music Row Ladies Golf Tournament. The August 15 event raises money for United Cerebral Palsy. Tim McGraw is one of the event’s sponsors as well.
Chris Young will headline the Case Labor of Love Music Festival at Racine, Wisconsin’s Festival Park. The event takes place on Labor Day, September 5, and helps Team Rubicon, which creates emergency response teams with the help of veterans and first responders.
Capitol NashvilleLady Antebellum will be honored with Musicians on Call’s Music Heals Award August 9 during a private ceremony in Nashville. Even though it’s an invitation-only event, a pair of lucky fans will be able to go, thanks to an online auction that offers front row seats and a meet-and-greet with the band.
Hillary Scott says she’s happy to do anything she can to help the non-profit that brings music to the bedsides of patients all across the country. “Music is so universal and has so much power. We’ve been able to share our love of music and experience first-hand how it touches people. It’s really special to see music help people get through really tough times."
Though they’ve been on break most of the year so far, the trio is back on the road this summer, and already working on their next project.
Warner Music NashvilleDonald Trump won’t take on Hillary Clinton at the polls until November, but Blake Shelton has already found himself going a couple rounds when it comes to the presidential race. His adversary? Debra Messing -- the actress best known as Grace Adler from the sitcom Will & Grace.
It all started when the ever-candid country star was asked to comment on the upcoming election in an interview with Billboard. “Whether you love him or hate him, he says what he thinks,” Blake said of Trump, “he has proven that you don’t always have to be so afraid. A lot of people are pulling for him, no matter how much Hollywood fights it.”
Construing his comments as an endorsement of Trump, Messing tweeted at Blake’s girlfriend Gwen Stefani, “Please talk to your man to not vote for the person who will STRIP you of your rights.”
The “She’s Got a Way with Words” hitmaker was quick to shut the potential controversy down.
“Hey before this gets going like it always does… I haven’t [endorsed] ANYBODY for president,” Blake shared. “And I [am] not going to. I don’t do that s***,” adding “My comment about ‘wish there was another option but there’s not’ is across the board… period.”
Messing wasted no time issuing a mea culpa. “Ok -- I regret commenting,” she said. “My passions got the better of me. Sorry.”
In the end, all was well between the two entertainers, who've both starred on hit NBC shows. "Thank you sis," Blake tweeted. "I don't endorse anybody. For this very reason!!"
Blake isn’t the first country star who’s had to clear up a supposed endorsement. Earlier, Dolly Parton was forced to issue a statement after her comments supporting the idea of female president were interpreted as support for Hillary. Dolly, like Blake, is remaining neutral.
UMG NashvilleThe Band Perry is counting down to Comeback Day. It’s been quite awhile since the siblings have put out a new single, but come next Monday, that’s all about to change. The trio is set to release a new song called “Comeback Kid” August 1, and on Wednesday, they posted a teaser video for the song.
The cryptic clip opens with one of the boys whispering the words, “Up til now, I’ve never made a sound,” followed by Kimberly Perry singing the same lyric. Next, a crouched, shirtless Reid Perry unfurls his torso and lets out a dramatic scream. You can check out the sneak peek for yourself on social media.
Last August, the band released what was to be the lead single from their third studio album, the song “Live Forever.” Though it failed to become a hit, it did go on to be the official song of Team USA for the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio. In March, the three parted ways with Big Machine Label Group, later signing with Interscope to represent them in the pop world, while transitioning to UMG Nashville as their country home.
ABC/Byron CohenIf you’re thinking Little Big Town has done lots of dabbling outside country music lately -- well, you’re right. The foursome teamed up with pop/R&B sensation Pharrell Williams for their admittedly non-country new album, Wanderlust, and they’ve popped up on ABC’s Greatest Hits performing mainstream hits like Oasis’s “Wonderwall” and Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’.”
But if you suspect the crossover success of “Girl Crush” has the CMA Vocal Group of the Year thinking they’d like to leave their home genre, the band defiantly says you’re dead wrong.
“We wouldn't leave country music for nothin'!” Kimberly Schlapman asserts.
“And I don't think it would leave us either,” Phillip Sweet interjects. “It's in our bones.”
“Our greatest pride is being Grand Ole Opry members, so we wouldn't know how to be pop stars!” Karen Fairchild asserts, as all four break into laughter.
With all they’ve got going on these days, Kimberly says she and her bandmates have become master multitaskers.
“The interesting thing about this Pharrell record is that we are making our country record with Jay Joyce, we're on tour with Luke [Bryan]… So it's all happening at the same time,” she reveals.
“It's all mixed up,” Phillip agrees.
Tonight, you can catch Little Big Town adding one more item to their to-do list. They’re on Greatest Hits at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.
ABC/Byron CohenIf you’ve been watching ABC’s Greatest Hits, you know when it comes to her new co-hosting gig with Arsenio Hall, Kelsea Ballerini has it down! But this Thursday night, she gets to return to her first love, performing a mashup that fits with this episode’s 2000-2005 theme.
"They wanted me to do something that kinda represented the stuff that I grew up singing and listening to so I'm doing a mashup of Shania Twain, who is queen in my, my musical world, Britney Spears was my first concert and Maroon 5, and a big blue sparkly bodysuit because why not?" she laughs.
Kelsea isn’t the only country star on this episode, either. Lee Ann Womack reprises her smash from 2000, “I Hope You Dance,” teaming up with pop star Rachel Platten for a collaboration that includes her hit “Stand by You.” Little Big Town also returns to the show to put their twist on Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’.”
You can catch this week's episode of Greatest Hits Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET on ABC, in advance of next week's live season finale.
Burke/Triolo Productions/Thinkstock Garth Brooks is set to play his first-ever full show at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on September 8. The audience will be composed entirely of contest winners.
Charlie Daniels will be featured in a new exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum titled Million Mile Reflections. It’s set to open September 23, in advance of Charlie’s October 16 induction into the Hall. The display will remain through March of next year.
Thompson Square and Cassadee Pope will join Martina McBride on the Texas and Colorado dates on The Sarah Cannon Tour to support the Band Against Cancer initiative.
Courtesy BMLGNot only do Florida Georgia Line have a #1 country hit with “H.O.L.Y.,” the debut single from Dig Your Roots has also made it to #15 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart -- and soon, they’ll have their own brand of whiskey too.
Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley have spent the last year perfecting their product, and they’ve settled on a whiskey made in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Tyler tells Billboard they picked this particular distillery because it makes a smooth whiskey with notes of peach and pecan, flavors that are both native to their home states.
“It's something very memorable,” Brian says. “It's not just a shot; it's not just a sip. It's something that you can take with you. You want to share your life experiences, your whiskey, your laughs, and your smiles with your camp… We already ran out -- we have to get more on the bus. It's really, really good. Everybody wants it!”
Florida's Georgia Line's whiskey will be sold under the brand name Old Camp. It's set to officially make its debut in August.
Arista NashvilleWe'll have to wait until the September 11 premiere of Sunday Night Football to see Carrie Underwood's new open for the number-one show in primetime, but NBC plans to give us a little preview during its upcoming Olympic coverage.
For her fourth year performing the theme song, Carrie is mixing things up. She's crafted a new version of her 2014 hit with Miranda Lambert, "Somethin' Bad," transforming it into "Oh, Sunday Night" for the show. A dozen NFL players join her in the new clip.
You can get your first look at it August 5-21, during NBC's coverage of the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Warner Music NashvilleFrankie Ballard is lighting up “Cigarette” as the follow-up single to his top-15 hit, “It All Started with a Beer.” It happens to have been co-written by fellow performers Chris Stapleton and Kip Moore.
“’Cigarette’ is straight up and down just about lust,” Frankie says candidly, “and all you gotta do is listen to it to know what I’m talking about.”
You can check it out on YouTube, since “Cigarette” was part of the series of videos released in anticipation of Frankie’s new album, El Rio.
Comstock/ThinkstockOriginally recorded in 1977 by Emmylou Harris on her Luxury Liner album, this Townes Van Zandt tune went on to be a #1 hit for Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard in 1983. Can you name it? ANSWER: "Pancho & Lefty."
BMLGWhen you listen to Florida Georgia Line’s “H.O.L.Y.,” you’re not just hearing the duo’s eleventh career number one; both Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard agree-- you’re experiencing a more grown-up version of the boys that broke out with “Cruise” in 2012.
“We're at a good place in life and I think when the world heard about Florida Georgia Line, we were at the beginning of a lot of changes in our life, and we're just that age,” Tyler reflects. “It's bound to happen. We've met our wives. We've bought houses. We kinda went from boys to men,” he laughs. “Boyz II Men? The world began to open their eyes and see us when we were boys and then they got to experience the change in our music as well.”
Brian says the duo’s third album continues that theme.
“We're getting to put our lives into music, and that's what country music is, every step of the way," he says. "Whether it's… 'This is How We Roll,' 'Dirt,' 'Sundays,' 'H.O.L.Y.' or what we've got coming down the pipeline, we're gonna be honest and transparent with where we're at. There's no way around it for us. We've got to put out real music and music that we feel that we've lived.”
You can experience Florida Georgia Line’s next chapter when Dig Your Roots is released August 26.
Burke/Triolo Productions/Thinkstock Brett Eldredge promises his popular Bed Head Jams will return to Snapchat on Wednesday. He’s had to take a little break because he’s been on vocal rest to prepare for five shows in a row.
Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Sheryl Crow, Lee Ann Womack and Brothers Osborne will play the inaugural Outlaw Music Festival Sunday, September 18 in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Jennifer Nettles and Jerrod Niemann will headline this year’s Beach Bash September 9 in Wayzata, Minnesota.